April 4, 2008

Final submissions will be heard today as the five-month inquiry into Australia's $A500 million equine influenza outbreak draws to a close.

Evidence from the last of about 260 witnesses was heard yesterday.

The inquiry has heard not only from senior government and departmental officials, but also farriers and grooms involved in the importation of horses which formed part of the investigation's focus.

Commissioner Ian Callinan has indicated major changes, including an external auditor of quarantine stations (both in Australia and overseas), big increases in fees for shuttle stallions and an expected overhaul of quarantine services.

Commissioner Callinan's final report is due on April 25, in which he is expected to outline precisely how the disease escaped into Australia's general horse population in August last year.

The eradication effort has cost about $A100 million, with loss to equine industries put in some estimates as high as $A500 million.